How Not To Drive Yourself Up The Wall – Lawyer Monthly | Legal News Magazine

How Not To Drive Yourself Up The Wall

Rediscovering something which reminds you of the good old days, is a pastime everyone is guilty of. Some delve deeper than others, and collecting or rekindling love for a classic car is a perfect example of blasting into the past. Some collect for a show piece and others enjoy revamping the old into the new; nonetheless, there, as with anything else, regulatory requirements to ensure you don’t crash into a brick wall. We speak with Mag. Stephan Zinterhof who discusses regulations collectors often forgets about, and changes he would like to see in this industry.


What are regulations that non-experts are often surprised or not aware about in classic car law?

Many countries of the EU have limitations on the use of classic and collector cars in traffic. In Austria, a historic vehicle may not be used in traffic on more than 120 days per year. In case of substantial changes to a classic vehicle (chassis, engine, braking system etc.), the vehicle can lose its registration as a historic vehicle.


What are the different taxation rules for classic cars?

Motor vehicles that are imported to the EU are subject to customs duty and import sales tax.  Pursuant to the heading 9705 of the combined nomenclature contained in Annex I to Council Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 of 23 July 1987 on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff, collector cars are exempt from customs duty. A motor vehicle is defined a collector car, if the vehicle is in its original state, without substantial changes to the chassis, steering or braking system, engine etc., and is at least 30 years old. Additionally the motor vehicle has to be a model or type which is no longer in production and is presumed to be of historical interest.

Import sales tax rates for classic and collector cars differ within the various countries of the EU. In Germany, the Import Sales tax rate is currently 19 %. In the Netherlands, an Import sales tax rate of 6 % applies to classic cars. Austria has an Import sales tax rate of 10 %.


What are the common problems and issues new owners of classic cars can often face? What three things would you advise new owners to consider before purchasing antique vehicles?

As values of many classic and collector cars have risen enormously in the past years, classic cars have become the subject of fraud and counterfeits. Many fake cars and clones of highly valuable cars pop up on the market. Before purchasing a valuable classic car, it is advisable to perform a thorough research on the authenticity of the car. Check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the car. Gather as much information on the car type as possible. For many car brands you can find extensive literature. Many car clubs have registries of VINs. If necessary, get an expert opinion of the car. Be warned when the seller can provide only sparse information on the history of the car.


Can you think of any regulatory changes that would benefit buyers and sellers of classic cars?

For a few years, newly manufactured and fully licensed bodies for various classic cars are available. There is a controversy whether a classic car that has been rebuilt with a newly manufactured body can qualify as a historic vehicle. In some jurisdictions this is not the case. Those cars cannot be registered as historic cars. There is the problem that in those cases it is nearly impossible to comply with the legal requirements for a new car. In most cases these cars cannot be used on public roads. It should be an aim to simplify the legislation.


Is there anything else you would like to add?

Auctions have become popular for buying classic and collector cars. For the seller, auctions offer the opportunity to sell a classic car fast and at a high price. Buyers hope to make a good bargain when buying a classic car. In most cases, auction houses do not give warranty or guarantee for the cars sold. Buyers should be aware that buying at auctions means unpredicted risks for the buyer.


Mag. Stephan Zinterhof

Rechtsanwalt/Attorney At Law

Rudolfsplatz 3/8

A-1010 Wien

T +43-1-532 30 20


Mag. Stephan Zinterhof, Law offices, is a law firm in the heart of the city of Vienna. Mag. Zinterhof advises on all aspects of civil liability law, commercial law and real estate law. Mag. Stephan Zinterhof graduated from the University of Vienna in 1999 and was admitted to the Bar of Vienna in 2006. He works with national and international clients and speaks German and English.

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